Dealing with debt can be a real struggle, it can feel hopeless and feel like you are carrying the burden alone. But there is hope, and you don’t have to suffer alone.
The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) is an independent government body set up to help solve people’s debt problems. They regulate a network of qualified professional advisers called Personal Insolvency Practitioners or PIPs who can help you manage your debt and finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are different debt solutions available, which suit individual needs. One possible solution is a personal insolvency arrangement – here’s all you need to know:
What is a PIA?
A Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is an insolvency solution for people with unsecured and secured debts. Secured debt is debt that is backed or secured by an asset, for example, a home loan where a house is mortgaged to secure the loan debt. Unsecured debts can be credit cards, loans and overdrafts.
This is a formal agreement with creditors that will cancel certain unsecured debts and restructure any remaining secured debt, while keeping the person in their home when possible.
Who is eligible?
If you have secured debt and unsecured debt that you cannot repay, a PIA might be the right choice for you.
How do I get a PIA?
The first step towards obtaining a PIA is to meet with a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP), to discuss your finances. They are experienced debt solution professionals and they will help you find the solution best suited to your needs.
PIPs are located nationwide and contact details can be found here.
What should I do to prepare?
Your PIP will want to review all the paperwork related to your debt, so gather all the files and documents you have in preparation for your meeting. Another helpful thing you could do is make a list of who you owe money to, the amount, and repayment details.
What is the cost of a meeting with a PIP?
Like any other professional providing a service, a PIP may charge a consultation fee to review your financial situation and determine if you are eligible to apply. After that, all PIP charges are usually rolled into the PIA reimbursement plan.
If you are in arrears on a home loan, you may be eligible for a free PIP consultation through a state-funded program called Abhaile.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of solving your debt problem are endless. For many, the feeling of relief is number one. Once you’ve spoken with your PIP, they’ll tailor a plan to put you on the road to insolvency.
Another crucial benefit of a PIA is freedom from your creditors. They will no longer be able to contact you – your PIP will handle all communications, so no more letters, phone calls or arriving at your doorstep.
Having a structured and secure solution is a huge benefit and should bring peace of mind from lag.
With this plan in motion, you can restructure secured debts, such as a mortgage, and possibly write off unsecured debts. This will put you on the right path to becoming financially stable.
Josephine’s PIA story
We had been in arrears for a few years on the mortgage and on our credit union loan. We tried to pay a little each to keep everyone happy, but we were getting calls mostly about the mortgage and the bank kept telling us that was the most important thing to watch out for.
It’s a vicious cycle when you try to pay as much as you can. My husband is suffering from a bit of depression but the banks didn’t want to know. One day I received a letter from the bank threatening us with repossession.
I called and begged them saying, “I don’t want my husband to be in the grave,” but there was no change in their approach. The worst part is that you make yourself feel like criminals. We are just an ordinary family. , we are not scammers, we do our best.
When I realized things weren’t going to get better, I contacted a PIP. I thought, “Well, things can’t get any worse…” Almost immediately, we felt a sense of relief. After our first meeting, where our options were well explained to us, we came away hopeful…we had started a process, we were doing something.
Our PIP stood between us and the bank – they dealt with him and they were on our backs. The sheer relief of that alone was fantastic. In fact, I could see the relief on my husband’s face – that some weight had been lifted…it’s such a cliché thing to say but it’s true. Waiting to see if everything would go through with it was difficult.
But when we learned that he had been accepted, it was like winning the lottery! We were actually stress free in a way. We were almost in tears thinking, “Is this real? Is this happening?” The kids were asking us what’s wrong and we were saying it’s hard to pay the bills.
Now it’s a relief that the money is available for the school. When we first heard about meeting our PIP, we thought we’d meet a guy in a suit and he’d say, “How come you can’t afford to pay?” But he spoke to us like two human beings. If you’re like us, don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s so much better than facing it alone.
For more information about PIAs and other debt solutions offered by the ISI, visit backontrack.ie or call their information line on 01 764 4200 or free text GEHELP on 50015 for a call back.